This collection of essays explores the cultural significance of children’s reading by analyzing a series of Anglo-American case studies from the eighteenth century to the present. Marked by historical continuity and technological change, children’s reading proves to be a phenomenon with broad influence, one that shapes both the development of individual readers and wider social values. The essays in this volume capture such complexity by invoking the conception of “mediation” to approach children’s reading as a site of interaction among individual people, material texts, and institutional networks. Featuring a range of scholarly perspectives from the disciplines of literature, education, graphic design, and library and information science, this collection uncovers both the intricacies and wider stakes of children’s reading. The books, public programs, and archives that focus explicitly on children’s interests and needs are powerful arenas that give expression to the key ideological investments of a culture.
Anne Marie Hagen is associate professor of English at the Norwegian Defence University College, Oslo, Norway.
Introduction. “Mediation: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Studying Reading”
Anne Marie Hagen
Part I – Historical Reading Practices
Chapter 1. “Socio-Economic Status and Varied Freedoms in Eighteenth-Century Childhood Reading”
Chapter 2. “Enlightenment Reading Lists: Domestic Curricula and the Organisation of Knowledge in Novels by Women”
Part II – Programs and Collections
Chapter 3. “Mediating the Archives: Child Readers and Their Books in Special Collections”
Chapter 4. “Bookbug: The Mediating Effect of Book Gifting in Scotland”
Emma Davidson & Tracy Cooper
Part III - Textual and Material Strategies
Chapter 5. “Reading Information: Using Graphic Language to Enhance Engagement with Children’s Books”
Chapter 6. “Mediating with Metafiction: Rethinking What Counts about Reading with Parents, Using Picturebooks”
Part IV – Texts, Worlds and Mediation
Chapter 7. “Mediating the Act of Reading through Picturebooks and Fictional Readers”
Chapter 8. “ ‘My World Has Become Smaller’ – Cortically Remapping Postfeminist Confinement in Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It”
The interdisciplinary and methodologically varied approaches in this timely collection explore and seek to theorize various ways Anglophone childhood reading is mediated through programmatic interventions, textual features, and the web of adult/reader/text interactions. These engaging essays will inspire researchers in children’s literature and cultural studies to view reading practices with greater depth and nuance.
This is a wonderfully wide-ranging set of essays exploring how children’s reading experiences have been shaped, across three centuries, by changing pedagogies and understandings of childhood, by social policy and publishers’ strategies, and by the institutions and individuals that provide children’s access to books. Ranging from the eighteenth century to the present, these essays challenge us, in whichever disciplines we work, to develop new methods of understanding children’s reading practices, and always to question our assumptions about how different children read, and what effects their reading can have.